Whether costs budget can be signed by a  senior costs draftsman


PD 3E provides that a costs budget must be verified by a  statement of truth signed by a “senior legal representative  of the party”. In this case, it was claimed that the budget  was a nullity because it was signed by a senior costs  draftsman (who is not a solicitor). 

Stuart-Smith J held that the draftsman was not a “senior  legal representative” for the purpose of PD 3E. Although  the practice direction does not define a “senior legal  representative”, it was held that where (as is the case  with PD 3E) a practice direction states that it supplements  a particular rule of the CPR, regard can be had to the  CPR to ensure consistency. CPR r2.3(1) defines a “legal  representative” as (inter alia), an authorised person who  “has been instructed to act for a party in relation to the  proceedings”. The judge concluded that “viewed overall, the  CPR 2.3(1) definition of “legal representative” seems to me  to connote someone who is representing in a legal capacity,  which is not what is being done by a Costs Draftsman  whose only involvement consists in preparing a costs  budget and who does not give any form of legal advice or  legally based representation”.

Even if that was wrong, the costs draftsman in this case  could not be descried as “senior” because, out of the  three people listed in the form, he was the least senior, at  least by reference to his charging rate. Furthermore, the  practice direction requires “the certifier to be in a position  independently to assess the weight of the case in terms of  legal, factual and documentary complexity” and here, the  draftsman knew nothing about the underlying case.

However, the judge refused to find that the budget was a  nullity because of this “irregularity”. It could not be said  that the defendant had failed to provide any budget at all.  Even if that was not the case and relief from sanctions was  required, the judge would have granted such relief because  the breach was trivial. The defendant was ordered to  remedy the irregularity and to pay the party who brought  this to the court’s attention GBP 50.